PBMC: Full Metal Jacket

Proud Boy Movie Club

Certain Movies every man should see, some he should know by heart.  These are the movies we’ll be featuring in the Proud Boy Movie Club.  Some films will be new to some of us, some we’ve seen a dozen times.  Either way you’re encouraged to watch or take the opportunity to re-watch these films every man should know.  All Proud Boys can follow the films week to week here and discus and post thoughts, questions and comments in the Proud Boys Facebook Group.

This week’s Movie Club: FULL METAL JACKET

Stanley Kubrick‘s Full Metal Jacket is less of a movie and more of a right of passage.  As young men, this was one of the films we were told “you can watch it when you’re older”.  This film became something one of your friends would get their hands on and what happened next would change us forever.  Before the lines became over parodied and clique they were the unspeakable meanness that life long bonds are born in.  The humor, cruelty, violence, and darkness was next level film making that could only be matched with the brain of a 12 year old boy.

We can’t talk about Full Metal Jacket without talking about R. Lee Ermey.  For this performance, crowds of people should be chasing him through the streets throwing Oscars at him everyday as he tries to walk to his car.  Ermey was an actual marine drill instructor who rewrote the opening “boot camp sequence” himself.  Ermey started as a creative consultant on the film but was asked to play the part himself when all the actors auditioning couldn’t get through their lines without laughing.  The character he created in the sadistic drill instructor “Gny. Sgt. Hartman” became nothing short of iconic.  He was so good, every drill instructor in a movie since has either been a direct homage or just looks weak.

The film is a Kubrick-ian psychological thriller set in the Vietnam Era American military.  It features a young Mathew Modine before he was sentenced to play the old guy you can’t believe used to be Mathew Modine as Pvt. Joker.  Unequivocally, he was at his best here (especially when you consider the other people who auditioned)…

 

Joker is in marine boot camp being hardened into a killer for the war effort.  Hartman spots him as a stand out and charges him to mentor “Pvt. Pyle” played by a young Vincent D’Onofrio before he was sentenced to do endless Law and Order reruns.  Pyle is the fat slow kid constantly being picked on by the Drill Sargent.  Hartman punishes the rest of the camp for Pyle’s mistakes which leads to one of the most hard to watch scenes ever put on film, the “blanket party”….

My god you forget how great that was.  Pyle becomes more and more unhinged until this happens…

The power shift in this scene is flawless (as we’d come to expect from Kubrick).  Pyle kills himself and the drill instructor on the last day of boot camp.  It is an exaggerated foreshadowing of the change that Modine’s character will have to go through.  The second half of the film gets a bad reputation.  Obviously, R. Lee Ermey didn’t rewrite it and it feels like a different film, for sure.  Don’t forget the first half of this film is one of the greatest first halves of any film, ever.  The second half however gave us this….

“Me so Horny.  Me love you long time.” 

Possibly the most quoted thing you say to your friends while doing a stereotypical Asian girl’s voice.  And it gave us this…

As you can see, this film has contributed to the culture in countless ways.  The second half of this film also gave us the greatest name in the history of names “Animal Mother”.

Joker and his crew end up getting pinned down by sniper fire.  Multiple leaders are killed and that leaves the guys with the indecisive, unready “Cowboy”… who is also horrifically killed by sniper fire.

The team make their way into the sniper nest to end up finding a street hooker is the one behind the trigger and wound her.  The guys laugh, while Joker has to put her out of her misery.  The last close up Modine gets is giving a 1,000 yard stare referenced earlier as the look when a marine has seen too much and pushed too hard.  It also call back to the look we saw on Pvt. Pyle’s face before he kill himself.

If this is the first article you’ve ever read that tells you Stanley Kubrick is a flawless perfectionist, then I’m glad this is the first article you’ve ever read on Stanley Kubrick.  It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact: It’s 11:00, it’s 73 degrees out side, and Stanley Kurbrick was a flawless perfectionist.  Technically speaking, the film is a fucking marvel.  Tremendous uses of tracking shots and long takes throughout the film.  The background of certain shots in Vietnam is packed with so much stage business, if you blink you can miss it.  Overall, the picture painted is realist, and thoroughly convincing.

Kubrick’s harshest critics have said he was so technically gifted but has no soul (in other words, you don’t really care about the fate of his characters).  Full Metal Jacket proves those critics wrong.  Joker is a character that must change, the film is about change, yet we don’t want him to change. Scenes referancing “the duality of man” as well as the over arching theme about war breaking down the human psyche make this an anti-war film.  Good.  Who likes war?  Still, what we get here is a far cry from a soft, hippie-dippy anti war “beat you over the head with our agenda” fest.  The 2 highest complements this film can be paid is 1. I never met someone who served in the military who didn’t like this film, and 2. I’ve never met a male who didn’t like this film.  That is the soul.

As much as Full Metal Jacket is a film about change, and mental breakdown, it’s also a film about leadership and readiness.  Those themes may be an unintended consequence, but bleed through nonetheless.  It can be argued that the entire piece is about becoming a man.  I’d imagine it’s hard for millennial to pick up on, cause the latest generation was raised to not understand what being a man actually means.  It means getting the job done.  It means accepting those hard, mental changes as a fact of life.  It means being ready for what life throws at you even when you’re not ready.

Today’s world loves to play the hindsight game and say “we’d be better off is this didn’t happen” but the real world sounds more like, “this is happening, what do we do next and what will it cost us?”.  In this life, no one gets to be in the rear with the gear.  It’s a big old shit sandwich, and we all got to take a bite.  Good thing we have movies.

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Written by PawL BaZiLe

PawL BaZiLe

Pawl is a film director and journalist living in New Jersey. Pawl is a fan of history and avid reader with a background in theater. He has used his debate skills to win over 30 Internet arguments. Pawl Bazile directed a punk rock documentary called “Living the American Nightmare” and is currently working on a motorcycle film called “Savage”. For Proud Boy Magazine, Pawl is in charge of digital media, new programming, and talent relations. He takes his coffee black. Follow him on Twitter @PawLBAZiLe.

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